“We’re not a team that teams look forward to playing against,” said UConn coach Dan Hurley.
It was a brilliant night of basketball for UConn highlighted by plenty of three-point shots by freshman Jordan Hawkins and tough finishes by
a flexing senior Tyrese Martin.
Most importantly, the University of Connecticut returned to its identity in a huge Big East win over the ranked No.
#18 Marquette University. They did it with passion and just a bit of swagger to their game.
It started in a rebound game for sophomore Adama Sanogo. The big man had 24 points in what looked like effortless basketball for the Big-East first-team candidate along with 15 rebounds. Sanogo continued to score in what was described as “demoralizing” by Golden Eagles coach Shaka Smart.
“I thought his baskets were more damaging mentally and emotionally than they were on the scoreboard,” said Smart.
Sanogo’s impeccable accomplishments were accompanied by the swagger and play of Martin. The Huskies senior came ready to play after looking to set a tone early after the team’s losing effort in their past two contests against Villanova University and Creighton University. The guard did just that with 18 points and 15 rebounds on an efficient 7-12 shooting from the field. When you’re UConn and need a win badly, Martin will always be a top option to turn to for a bucket.
Off the bench, the Huskies got a huge boost from
freshman Jordan Hawkins, who received a huge boost in minutes after his play against Villanova. The Huskies guard made sure to make those minutes count with 8 points including 2 clutch three-point shots that had coach Dan Hurley ready to chest bump the freshman.
“That shooting is eventually going to be elite,” said Hurley.
While UConn wasn’t able to replicate their amazing first half success in the second half of Tuesday’s win, the Huskies made sure to draw fouls and get to the line for easy scoring opportunities with 22 free throw opportunities in the second half.
Additionally, in a huge progression in the XL Center vs. Gampel Pavillion debate, over 12,000 fans packed the XL Center to cheer for their beloved Huskies. With a 6:30 p.m. start time on a Tuesday afternoon, fans made sure to make the trip to Hartford when coach Hurley called for a big time Big East crowd. The entire stadium shook as the Golden Eagles crumbled to the pressure of the Husky spirit.
“Crowd was awesome,” said Hurley. “When you have a crowd like that and energy like that in the building, it’s hard to lose at home.”
The Huskies won’t have another home game until
l Feb. ruary 16 against Seton Hall University, when they return to Gampel Pavillion in what will be a true test of student spirit. For the team, their focus remains on No. #25 Xavier, who will host UConn on Friday at the Cintas Center. An additional win against a ranked opponent would be major in UConn’s efforts to rebound after their previous two losses.